American swims the Drava, and stops off in Maribor

Mimi Pettersen Hughes, photo:

Somehow Slovenia seems to be a mecca for long distance swimmers. There's Slovenian Martin Strel who's swum the Danube, the Amazon, the Mississippi and the Yangtze. Now the American swimmer Mimi Pettersen Hughes has swum the entire length of the Drava river which runs through Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary to its end in the Danube. On her way through Maribor in Slovenia, Radio Slovenia International's Tamara Cucnik caught up with Mimi Pettersen Hughes and asked her; why is she swimming the Drava?

Mimi Pettersen Hughes: Probably last October. David Reader of the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) died in September, just after I completed the Danube. That's when I suggested the memorial swim, to re-energize the NGOs that were devastated by his loss.

How many kilometers are you swimming per day?

MPH: It really depends on the day. Some more than others. Today is a rather short day. So it really varies down the river. I made my schedule in the U.S. I couldn't get good maps. So I just had to guess. I can swim 3 km per hour in a pool. So in a river, sometimes I can do 10 km/h if there's a current. So it's hard to judge how far you can go in a day. But today is short.

What are your impressions of the Drava river and about Slovenia?

MPH: Well I met (long-distance swimmer) Martin Strel's son Borut a couple years ago. And he talked so highly of Slovenia. So I thought: "Gosh what a great country, I would love to go there". But I didn't think I would get the chance. But here I am. About Slovenia: I think it's a beautiful country that has a lot of things to preserve. That maybe didn't come out right: what I mean is that there are so many great things about Slovenia. And though it's nowhere near the size of China I would hate see the country taken advantage of. I see the Slovenian people as being proud of their country in that they want to keep it as it is and make it greater.